Basic Livebearer CareLivebearers are among the most popular fish to keep, and as thus, are frequently abused, put in poor tank conditions, and such. In this article, I will give basic instructions on keeping these wonderfully hardy fish, as well as go into detail on some of the more common livebearers.
Though they do not mind (and actually prefer) hard, basic water, they will not do well with water that leans toward the acidic side of the spectrum. They absolutely love water in the range of 7.2 to 7.6, but will survive in water that is more basic than this. Some livebearers will do just fine in softer conditions, some will not. Just remember to stay out of extremes on either end (in particular, the acidic end.).
Some livebearers (e.g. swordtails) have gotten a reputation of being feirce fish. This is more like Siamese Fighters than it is like a pirana- they are calm fish that have slightly violent tendencies. Avoid fish such as angels, fancy bettas, fancy guppies, etc.
The first livebearer I will give directions on keeping is the Wrestling Halfbeak. This is not exactly the kind of fish you will see at your average fish shop, so you may have to check out online stores if you want to get this fish. Specialty stores may have them, or they might be able to special order them for you.
These fish come from Thailand, and swim among all kinds of pollution, yet the ammonia, nitrates and nitrites are 0. The pH is 7.0. Given the environment that they come from, they are probably rather hardy- though they are not good community fish.
Guppies and mollies are very easy to keep. Just remember that they prefer water that isn't exactly bracksih, but isn't exactly freshwater- some salt is preferred.
Swordtails and platies are rather hardy, with one exception- they need a larger tank than Phoellecia livebearers and no salt.
Livebearers are easy to breed- many beginner aquarists learn this when they begin keeping these fish. One way to keep the livebearer population under control is to keep the fry in the community tank that houses the parents- you can feed your fish. When you see this, you may be horrified at this thought, but this is why these fish are so prolific- the odds of the fry making it to adulthood are slim.
Despite the few relatively insignifigant problems posed by them, everyone should keep some. Advanced aquarists could try the pickier ones, beginners should go for the guppies. This wonderful group of fish is great for everyone!